Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in August 2020. It has been updated to include the latest information.
There’s never a good time for digital data systems to stop running. When unplanned outages do occur, getting equipment up and running quickly and having data restored to its most recent known state can mean the difference between a successful organization and a defunct one.
In the highly connected and always-on economy we live in today, it’s essential to have a solid business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) plan in place. To be clear, disaster recovery is not the same thing as high availability (HA). Both aim to keep systems up and running, but HA is intended to handle problems while a system is running; DR comes into play after a system fails.
Delivering good performance and an excellent user experience is also crucial. Overloaded circuits from high volumes of user traffic going to a single data center can impact user experience and cause outages as well, so sharing the load between two or more data centers can be beneficial. All of these reasons are why geo-redundancy between data centers is mission critical for many businesses.
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Planning for disaster recovery
Many legacy DR approaches were built in an era when IT architecture was centralized, and pervasive, sophisticated cyber-threats were less prevalent than they are today. Managing security across today’s distributed hybrid multicloud environments is far more complex, and many DR plans didn’t account for the massive shift to remote work we saw during the global pandemic.
All of these things have created more pressure on IT teams to keep digital systems running in the face of current and potential disaster scenarios. The stakes are extremely high. According to a recent study from Uptime Institute, digital infrastructure outages are growing more costly over time: in 2022, 60% of failures resulted in more than $100,000 in total losses, up from only 39% in 2019.[i]
Geo-redundancy for business continuity
When organizations physically separate servers in geographically diverse data centers, it’s a safeguard known as “geographical redundancy.” This approach provides business resiliency against catastrophic events and natural disasters, such as fires, tornadoes or other situations that might bring a data center down for a period of time. Even when disasters happen, critical applications and data remain available.
A best practice for any business is to deploy redundant primary and secondary data center locations, either between metros or between different regions for protection against natural disasters. Critical IT infrastructure, data and applications can be mirrored to one or more cloud service providers (CSPs) for redundancy. If an outage occurs, the organization can fail over to one of the cloud mirrors and then fail back when the incident is resolved.
Best practices say that primary and secondary cloud locations within a region should be between 30 and 100 miles apart from each other. To do that, you need a geographically distributed interconnection and data center platform that can securely and dynamically connect CSPs and digital ecosystems across multiple regional, national and global metros.
Equinix Fabric® on Platform Equinix® enables businesses to quickly and easily build resilient, geo-diverse connections to remote data center infrastructures, networks and CSPs that meet key business continuity requirements. As a cloud-neutral solution, it delivers flexible, on-demand, global interconnection to create secure network connections to CSPs in multiple metro markets for redundancy and high availability. Equinix Fabric, in conjunction with a cloud-enabled storage device, provides an advanced interconnection platform that allows enterprises to pivot among various CSPs—within and between markets—to build integrated, geo-redundant hybrid multicloud architectures.
For example, HAVI, a global food supply chain/logistics company, wanted to expand its DR capabilities to deliver more data and customer continuity across its service areas. The company also wanted to ensure it was in a location remote from its production site in Chicago. The Equinix IBX® data center in Washington, D.C. was ideal, as it provided both geographic separation from the Chicago site and proximity to the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) region in Ashburn, VA.
HAVI partnered with Equinix to interconnect the Chicago production site to a cloud-based disaster recovery solution, leveraging Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) FastConnect with Equinix Fabric. Using Equinix Fabric, the company can now directly and securely copy 12-15 terabytes of data daily from the Chicago site to its DR environment, bypassing the public internet. From there, HAVI can restore operations in the event of a disaster.
Geo-redundancy for optimizing performance
Geo-redundancy also provides a way to balance the load across one or more data centers during times of peak traffic, ensuring optimal performance. Today’s distributed IT infrastructures are spread across an array of cloud and local services, which can quickly complicate a traffic load balancing plan. Connecting directly to individual CSPs often increases networking costs and management complexity.
Equinix Fabric simplifies real-time interconnection to multiple distributed CSPs with a self-serve portal, allowing businesses to make connections in just minutes. Through a single port, businesses can access a robust, interconnected cloud ecosystem to dynamically provision facility-to-facility or metro-to-metro remote connections to more than 2,100 networks and 3,000 cloud and IT service providers in Equinix’s global cloud ecosystem.
As a case in point, BMC Software needed to migrate its growing global business to a more automated, reliable, digital IT service-delivery and support-desk model for 700,000+ core Software as a Service (SaaS) subscribers and 1,200+ SaaS customers worldwide. With Equinix Fabric, the organization turned its service-delivery systems and support methods into smart digital IT platforms. With greater interconnection capacity, BMC increased performance, reliability and security across its 14 global data centers. It moved SaaS operations for its IT service management into Equinix IBX data centers in Chicago and Amsterdam—two of the biggest internet hubs, with excellent connectivity to millions of users.
This move enabled BMC to interconnect its IT service-management solutions at the digital edge of its enterprise network, where high concentrations of users, data and applications reside. As a result, the company was able to effectively balance the traffic load, which helped reduce service-impacting incidents by 1,000% and decrease IT-related user downtime by 25%.
No digital system is perfect. At some point, something will happen and render it inoperative. Because there are so many different ways systems can fail, they need to be designed with the expectation that failure will occur. Creating a replica of IT infrastructure including cloud-based services in a geographically distributed data center will help.
Read the Equinix Fabric guide to learn more about ensuring business continuity across multiple clouds with optimized hybrid multicloud networking.
 “Uptime Institute’s 2022 Outage Analysis Finds Downtime Costs and Consequences Worsening as Industry Efforts to Curb Outage Frequency Fall Short”, Uptime Institute Press Release, June 8, 2022.
Geo-redundancy means placing physical servers in geographically diverse data centers to safeguard against catastrophic events and natural disasters, as well as to load balance traffic for optimal performance."